SCORING 50 points in a National Basketball Association (NBA) seems rather easy nowadays. And the 1,230-game regular grind of the 2019-20 season has yet to make it past the All-Star break in mid-February.
Damian Lillard, the high-scoring All-Star of the Portland Trail Blazers, had three of such kind in February, including a league-season high 61 points – topping his own franchise scoring high – in a 129-124 overtime victory over the visiting Golden State Warriors wherein he also canned a team-best 11 triples.
The 6-foot-2, 29-year-old guard thus became the first NBA player in NBA history with 60-plus points and 10-plus three-pointers in a game.
Earlier, Lillard chalked up 60 points (then a career high) in a 119-115 home defeat to the Brooklyn Nets last November 8.
A one-time Manila visitor through the courtesy of adidas, Lillard is just the sixth player in league annals to have multiple 60-point games during a single campaign.
So far in the 2019-20 wars, there have been 16 instances by eight players who have scored at least 50 points so far, including three that reached the 60-point plateau.
Lillard has had four games with 50 points or more this season. He also racked up 51 points in a 124-107 home decision over the Utah Jazz last February 1 and 50 in a 139-129 home victory over the Indiana Pacers last January 26.
Houston Rockets All-Star guard James Harden, who is a cinch to capture his third NBA scoring title with a runaway average of 35.7 ppg (nearly six points better than second-placer Giannis Antetokuonmpo of Milwaukee), collected 60 points in a 158-111 home shellacking of the Atlanta Hawks last November 30. “The Beard” also has four other 50 points-or-more performances for a league-leading total of five.
Other players who have logged 50 points or more are Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving (twice, 54 and 50), Golden State’s D’Angelo Russell (52), Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokuonmpo (50), Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton (51), the LA Lakers’ Anthony Davis (50), and Houston’s Eric Gordon (50).
Last campaign (2018-19), there were 22 games where a player tallied 50 points or more. Harden was one of 13 men to accomplish the feat – shattering the old mark of 10 in 2017-18) – and the 6-foot-5 southpaw got nine of those 50-point feasts. Harden owned a pair of 61-point winning games – the highest in the league – and Kemba Walker, then of Charlotte but now of Boston, had a 60 in an overtime defeat.
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LeBron James logged 36 points – 19 in the fourth quarter and had seven rebounds, nine assists and 1,432 autographs signed as the Los Angeles Lakers toppled the San Antonio Spurs, 129-102, Wednesday at the Staples Center. The King shot 12-for-20 from the field, including 6-for-9 from three-point range. He buried his first five attempts from deep in the fourth canto before missing one.
With the victory, their second in three games since the tragic death of all-time great Kobe Bryant,the Lakers are now 38-11 (17-6H, 21-5R) – already bettering last year’s disappointing 37-45 finish in LeBron’s first season in El-Ay.
The Lakers host the Houston Rockets on Friday, February 7 Manila time. They are 3.5 games ahead of their co-Staples Center tenant LA Clippers (35-15), four ahead of Denver (35-16), six in front of Utah (32-17) and 6.5 games ahead of fifth-running Houston (32-18).
The Lakers’ second wheel Anthony Davis contributed 18 points as the team swept the three-game series against the Spurs. Kyle Kuzma, registered a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds off the pines. Hours earlier, Kuzma was rumored to be traded to the sad-sack New York Knicks for combustible Marcus Morris following the firing of Steve Mills as Knicks president.
The NBA trading deadline is on Friday, February 7, 3:00 a.m., Manila time.
The Lakers did well to acquire reformed Dwight Howard (rather than Joakim Noah) last summer as a free agent following the injury to DeMarcus Cousins, first on a non-guaranteed veteran minimum pact before guaranteeing it for the remainder of the season last January 6.
I continue to be impressed with the well-conditioned 6-foot-11, 34-year-old Howard, who notched another double-double Wednesday with 12 points (on 5-for-5 field shooting) and 11 rebounds in just 22 minutes as JaVale McGee’s backup at center.
Howard, who was a participant in the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Championship from 2007-09 and winning it in 2008 with his Superman-costumed stunt, is returning to the event. Others in this year’s four-man cast are former second-placers Aaron Gordon of Orlando (who was second to Zach LaVine in 2016) and Derrick Jones Jr. of Miami (who lost to Glenn Robinson III in 2017) and Milwaukee guard Pat Connaughton.
Howard had wanted to invite Kobe Bryant, a teammate in his first tour of duty with the Lakers in 2012-13, as his “props” in the stuff session just days before his death in a tragic helicopter crash.
I had also wanted 43-year-old dunking master Vince Carter of the Atlanta Hawks – the 2000 titlist – to be in next week’s event (Feb. 16 Manila time) to make it a “Gurang” festival. But tough luck, it was not meant to be.
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